“Check This Out!” How to Use Social Media Without Worrying
We all love checking our favorite social networking sites while waiting in line, and the latest online video makes our second cousin’s third child’s 1st birthday almost bearable. But we pay for this convenience with vulnerability to cyber criminals and the mayhem they inflict if we're not careful.
Ten years ago, the biggest concern a consumer had was synching the information in their phone with their home or office computer. Now, we have to worry about someone taking that information, opening a bunch of credit cards and sending our credit score to the depths of no return. What does this have to do with Social Media? Everything.
According to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 54% of respondents said they had already seen or felt they were very likely to see a loss of confidential information or a violation of their company confidentiality policy because of social media activities. At the very least, 52% of respondents said they had seen an increase in malware attacks as the result of social media.
Social networks are attractive targets for cyber criminals because they provide a wealth of personal information and their default security settings are open. The bad guys scour our profiles, posts and status updates to tailor attacks based on our likes and dislikes, and can also glean insight into potential passwords.
Scammers will also use news headlines, upcoming holidays and other timely events to get social networkers to give away their personal information. Two popular deceptions in the first half of 2011 were, “Create a Royal Wedding Guest Name,” and “In Honor of Mother’s Day,” and tricked people into giving up their children’s names, pets’ names, and street name; all information commonly used as passwords and answers password security questions.
Symantec has found the use of shortened url’s on social networking sites as an effective way for thieves to broadcast malicious material. Shortened url’s make it difficult for the user to see exactly where they are going so attackers will hack into a victim’s social media account, post a shortened url so that it appears in their friends’ newsfeed and within minutes, thousands of people will visit a malicious website.
To protect yourself, adjust your security settings, selectively accept requests, links and emails from people, show friends a bare bones version of your profile, and dismantle all of your privacy and email notification settings, re-enabling them one by one. Be wary of shortened url’s and any other recommendations that seemingly come from “friends”. Follow the simple rules outlined here and you'll be good to socialize however you choose.